André Sonnichsen

André Sonnichsen

Ekstern lektor


The liberal peace that was supposed to follow the Cold War is keeping us waiting.

More than two decades since the proclamation of a New World Order, it seems obvious that market democracy is not embraced spontaneously by populations freed from various non-democratic forms of political governance. In fact, it might be argued that the Western model is energetically dismissed at various points around the globe.

Yet, despite these realities, Western democracy promotion through practices of state-building rests upon an unmodified vision of the democratic nation-state as the final template for ‘the good society’. This policy goal is pursued through practices of ‘hard’ military intervention, ‘soft’ NGO development projects and institutional capacity building of public auhorities, all integral to the development-and-security policy paradigm.

This research project seeks to complexify and nuance our analysis of democracy propmotion policy by focusing on the relationship between democratic institutions and the environment in which they are being built. The complexity of this relationship is highlighted by the prevalence of ‘non-state social order’, which is often external and oppositional to the democratic template, yet co-exists in parallel with attempts to build it. The contrasts that become apparent reveal conflicting understandings of identity, rights and obligations, moral registers, practices of authority and modes of governance.

This perspective does not accept that the role of the democracy promotion policy can or should be described simply as ‘removing blockages’ to modernization and democratization. Rather, what is at stake is an understanding of the predicaments and struggles that emerge from attempts to build certain forms of social order and thus from attempts to subsume social difference into a unified logic of governance.

The project is financed by the Danish Council for Independent Research, Social Sciences - Individual Post-doctoral Grant, 2011.


Since 2007, post-graduate level courses that include:

  • State-building, governance and order formation in the postcolony
  • The security-development paradigm
  • Critical approaches to development, including postdevelopment 
  • Non-state social order
  • Poststructuralism
  • Collective identity formation
  • Research design and methodology, epistemology, the theory of science etc.

Supervision of BA the MA thesis students.

Other activities:

  • Regular appearance in print and broadcast media
  • Guest speaker, public lectures etc. 

Field and research trips:

  • Nairobi, Kenya – January to July 2012 (Associated researcher IDS, Nairobi University, 2012-2013.)
  • Nordic Africa Institute, Uppsala University – January to April 2009.
  • Doctoral Program in Ideology and Discourse Analysis (IDA), Essex University – October to December 2007.
  • Witwatersrand Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER), University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa – July to December 2006.

Successful competitive research and funding applications:

  • Danida, Ministry of Foreign Affairs - reverse travel grant 'Oplysningsbevillingen', 2013
  • Faculty of Social Sciences, Copenhagen University -Cross-disciplinary Research Development, 2012.
  • Danish Council for Independent Research, Social Sciences - Individual Post-doctoral Grant, 2011.
  • Nordic Africa Institute - Visiting 3-month Ph.D. Scholarship, 2008.
  • Sasakawa International Fellowship Fund - Travel Grant, 2006.
  • Department of Political Science, Aarhus University - Ph.D. Scholarship – 2005. (refrained)
  • Department of Political Science, Copenhagen University - Ph.D. Scholarship, 2005.

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